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1 And it came to pass in the month Nisan, in the twentieth year of Artaxerxes the king, that wine was before him: and I took up the wine, and gave it unto the king. Now I had not been beforetime sad in his presence. 2 Wherefore the king said unto me, Why is thy countenance sad, seeing thou art not sick? this is nothing else but sorrow of heart. Then I was very sore afraid, 3 And said unto the king, Let the king live for ever: why should not my countenance be sad, when the city, the place of my fathers' sepulchres, lieth waste, and the gates thereof are consumed with fire? 4 Then the king said unto me, For what dost thou make request? So I prayed to the God of heaven. 5 And I said unto the king, If it please the king, and if thy servant have found favour in thy sight, that thou wouldest send me unto Judah, unto the city of my fathers' sepulchres, that I may build it. 6 And the king said unto me, (the queen also sitting by him,) For how long shall thy journey be? and when wilt thou return? So it pleased the king to send me; and I set him a time. 7 Moreover I said unto the king, If it please the king, let letters be given me to the governors beyond the river, that they may convey me over till I come into Judah; 8 And a letter unto Asaph the keeper of the king's forest, that he may give me timber to make beams for the gates of the palace which appertained to the house, and for the wall of the city, and for the house that I shall enter into. And the king granted me, according to the good hand of my God upon me. 9 Then I came to the governors beyond the river, and gave them the king's letters. Now the king had sent captains of the army and horsemen with me. 10 When Sanballat the Horonite, and Tobiah the servant, the Ammonite, heard of it, it grieved them exceedingly that there was come a man to seek the welfare of the children of Israel. 11 So I came to Jerusalem, and was there three days. 12 And I arose in the night, I and some few men with me; neither told I any man what my God had put in my heart to do at Jerusalem: neither was there any beast with me, save the beast that I rode upon. 13 And I went out by night by the gate of the valley, even before the dragon well, and to the dung port, and viewed the walls of Jerusalem, which were broken down, and the gates thereof were consumed with fire. 14 Then I went on to the gate of the fountain, and to the king's pool: but there was no place for the beast that was under me to pass. 15 Then went I up in the night by the brook, and viewed the wall, and turned back, and entered by the gate of the valley, and so returned. 16 And the rulers knew not whither I went, or what I did; neither had I as yet told it to the Jews, nor to the priests, nor to the nobles, nor to the rulers, nor to the rest that did the work. 17 Then said I unto them, Ye see the distress that we are in, how Jerusalem lieth waste, and the gates thereof are burned with fire: come, and let us build up the wall of Jerusalem, that we be no more a reproach. 18 Then I told them of the hand of my God which was good upon me; as also the king's words that he had spoken unto me. And they said, Let us rise up and build. So they strengthened their hands for this good work. 19 But when Sanballat the Horonite, and Tobiah the servant, the Ammonite, and Geshem the Arabian, heard it, they laughed us to scorn, and despised us, and said, What is this thing that ye do? will ye rebel against the king? 20 Then answered I them, and said unto them, The God of heaven, he will prosper us; therefore we his servants will arise and build: but ye have no portion, nor right, nor memorial, in Jerusalem.

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1 angela h = "It was punishable by death to show any emotion except elation in the presence of the king. Nehemiah makes it a point to tell us that he had never before come in the presence of the king with a sad expression."
2 angela h = "The king asks him why he is sad and has a sorrowful heart. Nehemiah tells us he "was very sore afraid". Keep in mind he could of lost his life for not presenting a smile for the king. "
3 angela h = "Nehemiah pays his respect to the king and then answers the kings question.  Notice he first gives the king respect. I think if we made a practice of giving others respect before we begin to make demands of them, we would fare much better.He tells the king the condition of Jerusalem."
4 angela h = "It seems Nehemiah is surprised by the kings reaction, although it is what he prayed for. The king asks him what he wants. Nehemiah wasn't prepared for this, so he prayed to God for the answer. He did this in the presence of the king also."
5 angela h = "Nehemiah obviously had gotten an answer to his prayer. He is very tactful in his request. He says "if I have been a good servant to you, let me go to Jerusalem to rebuild it"."
6 angela h = "The king asks how long it will take to get there and how long it will take to do the job. Nehemiah gave him a time-frame and the king gave Nehemiah permission to go."
7 angela h = "Now we begin to see the Mighty Hand of God in action. Nehemiah not only asks to go, but for the king to provide the building materials and a military escort.Nehemiah is careful to give God the credit."
8 angela h = "Enter in the 'bad guys'. Sanballat, Tobiah, and Geshem (verse 19) oppose Nehemiah from the very beginning. I suspect they were somehow making a fortune from keeping the Jews in a low estate. Here we are told that they were grieved exceedingly because Nehemiah came to look after the welfare of the children of Israel."
9 angela h = "Nehemiah spent 3 nights surveying the work to be done. He had taken a few men with him, but they had kept their intentions secret for now.Nehemiah is careful here, as before, to say that this work was not his invention, but what  "God had put on his heart"."
10 angela h = "He wasn't ready to reveal the plan. This is very strategic on Nehemiah's part. He needed to know exactly what he would be asking the people to do before he addressed them. Also, the opposition couldn't cause too much trouble if they didn't know what was going on.Sometimes we need to make a plan before revealing what God is calling us to do. If we announce right away, that gives the opposition (satan) more time to fight us. Remember, satan cannot read you mind. He is not God!  Satan only knows what we tell him with our mouths or with our habits. "
11 angela h = "Nehemiah finally addresses the people with his plans. He encourages them to participate in the work to make their lives better."
12 angela h = "Nehemiah assures them that God is the head of this project. He also tells them that they have the kings okay and provision. They agree to build the wall. "
13 angela h = "The bad guys are on the ball here. They immediately begin to accuse Nehemiah of going against the king.Jesus was also accused of rebelling against the king. (John 19:12)"
14 angela h = "Nehemiah tells the bad guys that God will help them and they will surely build the wall. He also tells them they have no portion with the redeemed of God."